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Published by the 

Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tamp 

Room 506, 112 Easi 19th Street 
New York City 

,, who was 

A man is dead. 

Not an ordinary man. 

A man who gave his life for you. 

What? How could he? You never knew him? 

Then meet Joseph Shoemaker, a kindly, good-natured, soft- 
spoken man, tall, heavy-set, dark-haired, who came to Florida from 
his Vermont home in May of 1935, never to return. 

Meet Joseph Shoemaker, who was killed because he said: 

"There is neither peace nor security in America today — 
and there cannot be — until we provide work for the great 
mass of the unemployed." 

-Joseph Shoemaker, killed because of his great crime — helping 
to organize workers, employed and unemployed. 

Joseph Shoemaker, who believed in a system of production for 
use instead of profit, who wanted to rest his case with a "democratic 
decision" from the people of America. 

Joseph Shoemaker, who left home one night not long ago, never 
suspecting that he was being framed by Tampa cops and Ku Klux 
Klan night riders; never suspecting — 

That he would be illegally arrested, then kidnaped and flogged; 

That an inhuman gang would deliberately burn him, then pour 
boiling tar on his body; 

That he would lie in a ditch for seven hours, unconscious, naked 
and half frozen; 

That an armed guard would keep vigil outside his hospital door, 
lest his kidnapers, not satisfied with battering his head and throat, 
try to silence him; 

That he would finally succumb, after a nine-day battle for life. 


On the evening of November 30, 1935, six men were seated 
around a table in the home of Mrs. A. M. Herald, matron of the 
Hillsborough County, (Tampa) jail. The men were framing a con- 
stitution and by-laws for the Modern Democrats, a liberal political 

o;anization formed by Shoemaker. They were patterning their 
itution after that of the American Legion. 


Gallant fighter for the rights <md liberties of American labor, who was 
tortured and murdered by Tampa police and Ru> Klux Klan 


Mr. Herald and his daughter were listening to the radio in the 
next room. 

Suddenly, seven police officers entered. Three came in the front 
door and four in the back. Guns were drawn, papers were grab- 
bed, the men were searched. 

"Why the raid?" the police were asked. 

"Orders from the chief, chief of detectives," said 
"Smitty" Brown. Chief of Detectives Bush, however, told re- 
porters later, "If anybody said I ordered the raid, they are mis- 
taken. I didn't know anything about it." 

The six men were piled into police cars, driven to headquarters, 
there booked and grilled. Under the head "Why Held" two words 
were written: "Investigate communists." 

Who were these "communists"? 

Joseph A. Shoemaker, 47, chairman Modern Democrats, for- 
merly a member of the Socialist Party. 

Eugene F. Poulnot, member of the Socialist Party and chairman 
of the Florida Workers' Alliance, who tries to support his family 
of seven on a WPA wage of $30 a month. Poulnot was formerly 
president of the Pressmen's Union, A. F. of L. 

Sam D. Rogers, Socialist, with an M.D. degree from Loyola 
College, now a WPA worker. 

Walter Roush, president of the Sulphur Springs Workers Al- 
liance, an unemployed organization, and on the state executive 
committee of the Socialist Party. 

Charles E. Jensen, state secretary of the Socialist Party. 

And the sixth man — J. A. McCaskill, a city fireman whose 
father is a policeman. He deserves special mention, according to 
the Tampa Tribune of December 12, which states: 

"The state investigators have found evidence that leads 
them to believe Shoemaker and the others were framed. 
When the meeting started, five men were there, but Poulnot 
was missing. So one of the five got into his car and went 
for Poulnot. A moment later Brown and Wyman raided the 

McCaskill was the man who went to so much trouble to get 
Poulnot. His name was scratched from the police detention book, 
and "0. R. Sauls" written in its place. There is no such person 
in Tampa! McCaskill was immediately released. 

At the police station, the other men were questioned, then re- 
leased one by one. Two of them returned home unharmed, but the 
other three — 


Poulnot was suspicious when the police returned his wallet, told 
him he was free, for he knew unemployed leaders were usually 
held in jail for hours or several days. One of the plainclothesmen 
took Poulnot to a car parked at the Florida Avenue entrance to 
the jail, and said, "Let's get in. We've caused you enough trouble, 
we'll take you back." 

Poulnot noticed a man at the wheel, another man in back hold- 
ing the door open. He said he'd walk home. 

"Don't argue with him," said the man in back. "Put the 

in here." 

The officer grabbed Poulnot's collar. Poulnot screamed and re- 
sisted. A Police Lieutenant, who was standing ten feet away, 
according to Poulnot, made no move to aid him. Later, some 
policemen were to testify they heard the screams, others were 
to swear they hadn't. When a crowd gathered, the kidnapers lied, 
"We're taking a crazy man to Chattahoochee." 

Poulnot was pushed to the floor of the car, a foot placed on 
his neck. The car stopped in Tampa's warehouse district and a 
bag was put over Poulnot's head. Other care were there. Drinks 
were passed around. 

Another car drove up and Shoemaker, who weighed 230 pounds, 
was dumped on top of Poulnot. A man hit Shoemaker on the neck 
with a blunt instrument. 

The cars started up, drove to the Bloomingdale district, near 
Brandon, fourteen miles from Tampa. When they arrived, Rogers 
was already being flogged. 

While Rogers was in jail, he had heard Poulnot yell for help, 
so when he was released and a policeman took his arm and said, 
"Come, I will take you to your room," he knew what to expect. 
But he showed no fear. He was put into a car "in the driveway 
between the police station and the city hall," and driven to the 
dock front. There he was blindfolded, shifted to another car, told: 
"Get down on your hands and knees. Don't make any noise or it 
will be over with you." A man put his foot on Rogers' neck, a 
revolver against his ear. 

When the car stopped, Rogers was grabbed, stripped, placed 
over a log. His hands and feet were held while he was beaten with 
a rough hose. Then tar was applied to his abdomen, sexual organs 
and thighs, 

Poulnot was flogged with a chain and a rawhide, then tarred 
and feathered. He went unconscious several times. Once, as he 
"came to," a man said: "The is faking. Let's give it to him." 

All the tortures that Shoemaker went through will never be 
known. He was too horribly mutilated to ever tell. Investigators 
agreed later that boiling tar had been poured on his body and 
had burned into his lacerated flesh. When brought to the Centro 
Espanol Hospital his entire body was black from tar. For seven 
hours he had lain outside, unconscious on a night suddenly turned 
cold. For hours after he was brought to the hospital, it was pos- 
sible to warm him only with hot water bottles. His right leg had 
been held over a fire — burned and lacerated. 

Doctors visting other patients in the hospital, looked into his 
room, were shocked. 

Said one leading Tampa surgeon: 

"He is horribly mutilated. I wouldn't beat a hog the way 
that man was whipped. He was beaten until he is para- 
lyzed on one side, probably from blows on the head. He 
cannot say anything to you; he does not know what hap- 
pened. He can't use one arm, and I doubt if three square 
feet would cover the total area of bloodshot bruises on his 
body, not counting the parts injured only by tar." 

Abandoned in the woods when their assailants fled, the three 
victims started back to Tampa, but Shoemaker was too weak, and 
his two comrades left him, went on to summon aid. His brother, 
Jack Shoemaker, former commander of the Tampa American 
Legion, with whom Rogers immediately returned, found him, took 
him to the hospital. 

For nine days he hung between life and death, suffering hor- 
rible agony- In a desperate attempt to save his life, his foot was 
amputated. He died soon after. 


People in Tampa,' in Florida, throughout America, began to 
ask: "Why were they kidnaped?" 


Your Country Is Calling You 

The Klan Rides to 
Save America! 

Stop! Look! Listen! 
Think! Pray! 

Communism Must Go! America, Wake Up! 



Hate, Bondage, Prison And Starvation. 

Free Love, Children State Property, 

Dictated Thought by a Few. 

Feat lo Express Thought by Speech or Press. 

Overthrow, of All Government. 

The Red Flag of Deatructiorj. 

Overthrow of All Religion. 

Love, Peace, Freedom, God. 
Home, Husband, Wife and Children. 
Free School* of Patriotic Thought 
Free Speech and Free Press. 
Government of the People. 
The Star* and Stripes Forever. 
Right lo Worship God as we Please. 

You have read of "The midnight ride of Paul Revere." calling the Minute Men to arms to free u» 

from^yranny^ MiDNIGHT ^^ QF M KU KLUX KLAN. calling you to save our country and 

!t» '"«£■£«; f h Ku K!u]C Kla „ u delerm ; nc d to drive out of the United States these vicious, alien 
radicals and to eradicate their radical thought from every rank, class and group of the American people, 
through o nationytde concerted campaign. In this job. they are ent.tled to the hearty support of every 

*"■" TbiKnSiU oTthe Ku Klus Klan invite* and pleads for your help to save our country before ft fe 
too late. We do not want money but we need YOU and your support. 


This organization i. determined to fight to the \^^^^^]^SJ^"S^t^^ 
on our government and its American institution*. If you are a Red Blooded. Native Bom. American 
Citizen and believe with us, fill oat the coupon below. 

"— ---——- " — ~ ~"o«r»tt«athlt ti«« ttt4 m»M. 

P. O. Box 1975. 
Tampa, Florida. 

I want to help save our country and am ready to ride with yo*. 



(Stat* Khcrs emptor**) 



Severed weeks after the kidnaping of Shoemaker, Poulnot and Rogers' and 

the murder of Shoemaker by Tampa police and Klansmen, the above 

leaflet was widely distributed in Tampa. It speaks for itself 

In part this question was answered in less than two weeks when 
the men arrested for the murder and kidnaping were released 
on bail. And the bail was supplied by labor-hating, anti-union 
cigar manufacturers! 

Tampa provides 65% of the cigars consumed in America. The 
Tampa cigar bosses carry on a constant campaign to prevent the 
organization of cigar-makers unions. In 1910 five labor organizers 
were lynched in the city. In 1931 a manufacturers' secret committee 
staged an intensive anti-union drive which is still going on. Anita 
Brenner, writing in the Nation of December 7, 1932, revealed 
how the Tampa police and vigilantes aid in hindering labor or- 
ganization. The gangsters and vigilantes bred by the corrupt con- 
ditions of the city are always ready to do an industrial or political 

The Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tampa was 
formed, with Norman Thomas as chairman. David Lasser, chair- 
man of the Workers Alliance of America, was sent to Florida by 
the Committee as special investigator. 

William Green, president of the American Federation of Labor, 
after hearing the details of the case from representatives of the 
committee, threatened to move the 1936 A. F. of L. convention 
from Tampa to another city unless the guilty persons were fully 

Hundreds of A. F. of L. unions, locals, internationals, city and 
state bodies, have added their voices to the mounting roar of 
protest. Tampa unions and the Tampa central labor body demand- 
ed forthright action. 

Day after day the two Tampa newspapers printed protests from 
outraged citizens, flashed the' story across page one. 

On December 16 Norman Thomas publicly charged the Ku Klux 
Klan with having a hand in the crime. Imperial Wizard Evans, 
from his marble-columned home in Atlanta, denied the charge 
and spoke of Thomas as "a dangerous man." 

At first the city administration expressed pious horror and 
"went through the motions." Then came the wave of protests and 
charges. The sheriff, who is not a city appointee, moved to track 
down the criminals. 

Nine days after Shoemaker died six city policemen were ar- 
rested, charged with murder and kidnaping. They were released 

on $9,500 bail each, supplied by certain cigar manufacturers. Four 
days later two more arrests were made, this time of members of 
the Ku Klux Klan. Soon a third Klansman was jailed. Norman 
Thomas' charges were proved to be true. ' 


Kidnaping is a favorite Florida sport. 

In the last six years, twelve men have been kidnaped in Tampa 
and surrounding towns. 

The black record reads as follows: 

James F. Bickers, St. Petersburg attorney, flogged in 1929. A 
Tampa gang was blamed. 

H. R. Jameson of Tarpon Springs, Owen Jackson of Elfers, and 
W. R. Oxford, a paint shop owner of St. Petersburg, — all kid- 
naped and beaten in 1931. 

Constable F. A. Howard of Ballast Point was taken from his 
home in 1931 by men posing as federal officers. He was hand- 
cuffed, taken to a lonely spot north of Tampashores, and beaten. 
The handcuffs indicated collusion on the part of the police. 

Frank Norman, active in the United Citrus Workers' Union and 
representative of the International Labor Defense, disappeared 
under much the same circumstances as Howard. 

Robert M. Cargell, lawyer, was seized on a St. Petersburg street 
by a band of five men last March 20, taken to a wooded section 
north of Clearwater, and there mutilated. 

From a line up of twenty men in Tampa police headquarters, 
Cargell picked F. W- Switzer, suspended city policeman, under 
indictment for Shoemaker's murder, as one of his kidnapers. 
Switzer is now under $5,000 bond in the Cargell case, $7,500 for 
Shoemaker's death, and $1,000 each for kidnaping Rogers and 
Poulnot — a grand total of $14,500 on his head. 

Cargell claims: "My case and the Tampa flogging murder are 
so remarkably similar they cannot be dismissed as mere coinci- 

In circumstances similar to the Shoemaker case, S. G. Crawford, 
and a man named Gorden were arrested in 1933 at a labor meet- 
ing, taken to police headquarters for questioning on alleged com- 
munistic activities, then seized and beaten. 

It is known that the Ku Klux Klan held a state convention in 
full regalia at Clearwater several months ago. Rumors are cur- 
rent in Tampa today that Shoemaker, Poulnot and Rogers were 
only three "on a list of 20 to be given the works." It is definitely 
known that a Justice of the Peace, from a Tampa suburb, recently 
told Shoemaker, "We'll need some hangings to get rid of you 

This man is a Klansman. He was downstairs in the jail the 
night Shoemaker was kidnaped ! 


This is not the first case in which the Klan and the police have 
"cooperated." Everyone in Tampa concedes that the police and 
fire departments are filled with Klansmen. It is even said that one 
must belong to the hooded mob in order to become a cop. 

Last October, Police Chief Tittsworth sent two cops, one of 
them "Smitty" Brown, who led the murder raid, to pick up ' for 
questioning" Walter T. Burrell, English teacher at Hillsborough 
High School. Without a warrant, the cops nabbed Burrell as he 
was engaged in the subversive task of coaching the high school 
football team. The great Tittsworth questioned him for two hours 
concerning some remarks he had made in one of his classes. Titts- 
worth decided, finally, that Burrell was not a communist, though 
he warned Burrell that he wasn't a good citizen. 

Burrell happens to be a registered Democrat, who came to 
Tampa seven years ago from Montana. When fellow-teachers pro- 
tested the arrest, czar Tittsworth promised an apology— which 
never came. 

And at the police station there is no record of BurrelPs arrest! 

After the Shoemaker kidnaping a series of remarkable statements 
came from the mouth of Tittsworth. 

The police chief claimed that he received the first news of the 
kidnaping from the Tampa Tribune two days after the flogging. 

A little later, the chief said his officers did not know whom they 
^rere arresting at the Herald home. "All they were told was that 
a group of dangerous communists was holding a meeting, and 
that this group was armed." 


The source of this police "tip" has never been disclosed. There 
is no record of it at headquarters. The police invaded the Herald 
home without a warrant. "They had no right under the law to 
enter that home. They had no authority for the arrest of anyone 
there," says the Tampa Tribune editorially. 

Next Tittsworth morsel was his statement that his investigation 
"conclusively established" that no policemen had participated 
"directly or indirectly" in the flogging. The Tampa Tribune ridi- 
culed this, said, "The flogging murder case really dates from the 
invasion, by police, of the home of A. M. Herald." 

Final Tittsworth tidbit was a statement that the victims "had 
not been hurt anything like the newspapers had stated." The chief 
went on to say that he had evidence— "not yet written up"— that 
Rogers and Poulnot were seen at a filling station four hours after 
they were kidnaped, that both were fully dressed, their hair not 
even mussed, and they "were buying wine." 

Tittsworth was later removed by the Mayor, and he is now 
busy aiding the defense, whose chief attorney is the Mayor's 

AN $18,000,000 INDUSTRY 

It is ironical that one of the provisions of Tampa's incorporation 
papers eighty-one years ago was this: 

"To prevent and abate nuisances; to restrain and prevent 

For gambling is Tampa's largest industry today, grossing in a 
month what cigar manufacturing — the city's second largest in- 
dustry—does in a year. $18,000,000 a year is not to be sneezed 
at. That is why the politicians get their rake-off. That is why the 
city resembles an armed camp on election day. Last year Governor 
Sholtz sent in the militia. On primary day in September, 1,100 
special deputies were recruited and armed with shotguns, pistols, 
and hoe handles. 

Three of these deputies were Arlie F. Gillian, grave caretaker, 

Ed Spivey, typewriter repairman, and James Dean, electrician, all 

from Orlando, all Klansmen, and all indicted for Shoemaker's mur- 

t. Gillian was a former state officer of the Klan. He and Spivey 

through Tampa in a police car all primary day; then were 

"'O apiece at the police station. 

It would be difficult to find a single election in the last ten 
years in which votes were not stolen. It is common knowledge 
that city and county elections are crooked. Time and again, men 
have been indicted for vote frauds, but the inevitable whitewash 
has always followed. Sam E. Crosby, one of the policemen arrest- 
ed for the Shoemaker murder, was added to the police force the 
day after the kidnaping — after his acquital in criminal courts on 
a vote fraud charge! 

The Special Grand Jury called in to solve the Shoemaker case 
was also instructed to clean out the racketeers. Early witnesses 
claimed that more* than 400 liquor stores were thriving, although 
only 53 licenses had ever been issued. These witnesses also gave 
evidence of more than 78 gambling houses. 

In the September primary of last year an opposition candidate, 
backed by Governor Sholtz, ran without success against Mayor 
Chancey. After the primary, Shoemaker formed the Modern Dem- 
ocrats, which put up Miller A. Stephens against Chancey in the 
final election. The Modern Democrats made a remarkable show- 
ing and claim they would have won in an honest election. Not 
only were votes stolen from Stephens at the point of guns, but 
thousands of non-existent votes were clocked up for Chancey. 

All parties but the Democratic party are barred from the ballot 
in Florida. The Socialists backed the Modern Democrats. 

It was the graft and corruption of Tampa's political chiefs and 
underworld, as well as the cooperation between the Klan and 
police, which led to the brazen kidnaping of men who sought only 
to organize those on relief, turn the gambling ring out of politics. 


Public opinion is running high against Klan activity. The 
American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Tampa Bar 
Association, the Chamber of Commerce, the Tampa Ministerial 
Association and a dozen civic and church groups have joined with 
the county Teachers' Federation and the Central Trades and 
Labor Assembly in demanding action on the murder case and a 
cleanup of gambling. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, early in the case, oftV 
$1,000 for the arrest and conviction of the kidnapers, $2,500 
was added to this reward by the Tampa Board of Aiders 


William Green has demanded full investigation and punish- 
ment, threatening that "the American Federation of Labor may 
find it necessary to change the holding of the convention in No- 
vember, 1936, to some other city ..." William Green also sent a 
request to Wendell Heaton, head of the Florida State Federation 
of Labor, to investigate the kidnaping. Heaton reported back that 
organized labor was not involved in the case, and that the federa- 
tion convention should not be shifted. Heaton forgot to add that 
he, himself, was in politics, holding down a job as state industrial 
commissioner. This reply did not satisfy Green, who re-iterated his 
protests and asked Heaton to do likewise. 

In the past, many "good citizens" of Tampa have either par- 
ticipated in the gambling and election frauds, or have condoned 
them. Today, all Tampa is aroused. There is a growing realization 
that fascism may come to the land of orange groves in white 
hoods instead of brown shirts- 


But many Tampans are cynical. They have seen too much 
whitewash in the past" few years. Their attitude is best expressed 
by a billboard in a local lumber yard: "Tar Today— Whitewash 
Tomorrow." The Florida press has the same attitude. Editorial 
after editorial, in paper after paper, poses this one question: 
"Will Tampa whitewash this case, too?" 

Four years ago, the same Tampa Tribune, which now is clamor- 
ing for action, supported the cigar manufacturers in their ruth- 
less suppression of unionism, in their frameups, kidnapings and 
deportations of labor men. But the violence initiated by the em- 
ployers and kept alive by the Klan is now causing consternation 
among some who tolerated it. Unfavorable publicity has hurt 
Tampa. It is keeping industry from the city. It is keeping tourists 
from the city. 

Nine mobsters have been indicted for the kidnap-murder — six 
policemen and three other Klansmen. But an indictment is not a 
conviction. A number of prominent cigar manufacturers put up 
'-ail for the indicted men. There is no question but that they have 

" secret backing of some of the very people who are protesting 

*" orously against the crime in public! There is grave possi- 

it before the trial, or during the trial (in February) some 


new political deal will be arranged. A few men may be made the 
scapegoats. They may be sent to jail for short terms— for which 
they will be well repaid! 

To combat this possibility, the Committee for the Defense oi 
Civil Rights in Tampa has been formed! 


The case must not die down. Investigation must proceed. More 
evidence must be dug up. To do this, the Committee has its own 
men in the field. Here is a chance not only to fight for the right to 
organize the working class and for civil rights an Tampa, but also 
to wipe out the gangsterism of the Ku Klux Klan. It is a chance 
to show the Klan and their fellow vigilantes throughout the 
country, to show the night riders of the South that they can t get 
away with their mobsterisms any more. 

Will Tampa wipe out the ugly mask of an American fascism 
that lurks beneath the white hood? 

Will the murderers of Joseph Shoemaker be convicted? 

The answer is up to you. 


What You Can Do to Help : 

1. Protest individually— or have your union or any other 
organization protest and demand action from: 

Mayor R. E. L. Chancey, Tampa, Florida 
Governor Dave Sholtz, Tallahassee, Florida 

2. Order more of these pamphlets, sell them to your friends, 
and enlist them in this fight. 

3. Send contributions to finance the Committee's work to 

MARY FOX, Treasurer 

Room 506, 112 East 19th Street, New York Cit- 


Additional copies of this pamphlet may be obtained from the 
Committee or from any of the organizations constituting the 

Committee for the Defense of Civil Rights in Tampa 

Norman Thomas, Chairman 

Room 506, 112 East 19tii Street, New York City 

Labor and Socialist Defense Committee 

League for Industrial Democracy 

American Civil Liberties Union 

General Defense Committee 

Non-Partisan Labor Defense 

Emergency Committee for Strikers' Relief 

Workers Alliance of America 

Negro Labor Committee 

New York Dressmakers Joint Board, I.L.G.W.U. 

Social Action Committee of the Congregational Church 

Local 22, International Ladies Garment Workers Union 

Suit Case, Bag and Portfolio Makers Union 

t.50 per hundred on orders of 100 or more 
t.00 per hundred on orders of 500 or more